Using the same techniques as the ones employed in building classical guitars, Hart’s Guitars is excited to introduce its debut Classikulele!
I’ve dabbled in ukulele playing before when I bought one for $50 fresh off a beach trip, wanting my life to have a little bit more tropical je ne sais quois. There was a songbook as well, Crazy Jim’s Ukulele Songbook, or something to that effect. I learned a song called Chasing Rainbows and it was a lot of fun to play and probably the first jazz-standard feeling song I ever learned. Typical as with most obsessive impulsive hobbies, the ukulele ends up collecting dust and I later loaned it out with the book to a girlfriend and then never saw it again.
Since beginning the study of lutherie, I’ve wanted to build many types of instruments (like the Oud, for example) and on top of that list or near so has been the uke. After finishing up with a recent student and with a few days of downtime to recover from a Guitar Building Intensive, I decided to build one.
I got online to order some plans. Then, I thought. Do I need any plans? I don’t need any plans! So, as with my first guitar build, 001, I decided to simply design my own. I did not need to spend $30 on any plans from the Guild of American Luthiers! So, I sketched my idea for this classikulele in the morning of Thursday, July 2nd and started working on it. A week later I was finished except for the frets, which were somewhere in the USPS backlog.
Do you wanna build your own ukulele? Hart’s Guitars will be offering workshops soon. In the meantime, there is a book you must have if you’re seriously contemplating the idea of taking the plunge into the world of building a ukulele. Here is my book review of The Uke Book Illustrated: Design and Build the World’s Coolest Ukulele. I have to contain myself from a tendency to overhype things I love. But, this book is the sh!+! Let me explain….
Sarah Greenbaum is an artist. John Weissenrieder is a luthier. His shop is in the historic part of Florence, Italy! Sarah went to spend time with John, to observe him working, and paint illustrations of all the steps of the process and over cappuccinos they collaborated in this way to make the coolest book of lutherie you’ll ever see. Don’t be fooled by the picture book feel of the cover because this little tome is full of incredible information including: how to make jigs and tools of various sorts, Pythagorean math as a way to create the perfectly radiused arch in the instrument’s cross struts, and how to flush fret endings to the fingerboard and give them a 60° bevel, what!!?. There are paintings, watercolour paintings, that illustrate these things!
I’ve owned this book for nearly two years. I’ve consulted it often as it is an invaluable resource of information and inspiration for guitar builders. I loved it from the moment I opened it. It was only a couple of weeks ago when I decided to build a ukulele that I decided to read everything in the book, beginning on the cover, reacquainting myself with the author’s and illustrator’s name, and then flipping over and starting with the introduction to the book and that’s when I learned something that cemented a perpetual top 5 spot in my favourites for this little textbook.
Before The Uke Book Illustrated was finished, John Weissenreider passed away from pancreatic cancer. In 2015 he received the diagnosis. At the time, he and Sarah Greenbaum were a year and a half into the project. From the moment of his diagnosis until his passing, Sarah Greenbaum writes that he spent countless hours devoted to this book, “making sure there were no gaps left unfilled.” He wanted to pass on to the world, through this book, all of his knowledge. This is the sort of learning one gets through apprenticeships. This book is his legacy, a key into seeing the beauty and details in the handmade. I imagine they were more than collaborators while they worked together on this. The art of watercolour and the secret teachings of lutherie come together. Who new. Even if you have no inclination to get into the world of lutherie, this is a book you could fall in love with.
My first ukulele build.
Thanks for stopping by to read my post.
Coming soon, an article about my experience building Guitar 012….a little bit of tragedy but with a happy ending?